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HIST 100 Stuff: Objects and Their (Hi)Stories (Spring 2023)

Activity: Stealing from Rick's Office

Prompt: The classmates around you have been hired by a museum to steal the most cherished item in my office: the library use only baseball.

In the next 5 minutes, discuss:

  • What information do you need to pull this off?
  • What tools will you need?
  • What difficulties, expected and unexpected, might you encounter? 
  • How should you prepare?

Map showing location of Rick's office in the library

Planning your Projects

Research projects, like baseball heists, require planning. When picking your topic, consider:

  • What types of sources will you use?
  • What kinds of information will you need to collect?
  • Is this type of information accessible within your time frame?

More broadly, consider:

  • What are broader questions you can ask about the item "beyond the museum?"
    • What is the broader historical context? What interesting stories does it tell?
  • What are the psychological/sociological elements of the object?
    • who used it, how, and why?
    • how did it fit into their lives?
    • what is the relation with life trajectories, social & gender roles, daily life?
  • What are the material aspects of the object?
    • What are the materials?
    • who produces them? How?
  • what are the constructive elements of the object?
    • who provides the craftsmanship and labor?
    • what does the creator(s) tell us about broader social, cultural, economic, political systems
  • what are the histories & broader context of the object?
    • no object exists in a vacuum (Well. I guess maybe the ISS)
    • no object exists in a Social vacuum
      • What does the object tell us about broader themes in the society in which it was created?

The Museum Story ( and Social Context)

Unsure how to place your item into a larger social context? Hints:

  • Look at the museum and exhibit where you found the item
    • Curation is a field of scholarship and is not just the act of putting neat items on display (though that IS part of it!)
    • Exhibits tell a story, and many museums are organized around.

Use the course readings for Methodological context!

Remember, you already have a curated list of useful readings from the course that you can draw upon!